Now Paris courts Bollywood, Indian tourists
By Sumeet Chatterjee, IANS
Paris has decided to woo Indian middle class tourists by showcasing its famous landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame Cathedral in Bollywood films.
Tourism authorities in the French capital have decided to reach out to the vast and affluent middle class in India through the celluloid screen by doling out incentives to filmmakers in Bollywood.
"We want Bollywood to act as the ideal link between the Indian consumer and Paris," Paul Roll, managing director of Paris Tourism Department who is in India to hold road shows, told IANS.
"There is nothing like having more and more Indian movies shot in Paris and, in turn, showcasing and selling the scenic locales that we have there.
"Paris is wrongly seen in India as an expensive city for high-end travellers and business executives only. We want to change this perception by making the city accessible to young and middle class people by showcasing and selling the attractions of Paris to a larger audience here.
"And what better way can there be to achieve this goal than getting more and more Indian filmmakers to shoot their films in Paris as movies have a much more immediate impact on the social life all across India."
Roll said his department planned to capitalise on the recent "successful shooting" of the crossover film "One Dollar Curry" in Paris to entice more filmmakers over the months ahead.
"One Dollar Curry" is co-produced by Zee Telefilms, India's largest private sector broadcaster, and French TV, the most influential public television channel of France.
The film, which revolves around an Indian immigrant who makes it big in France by opening the first Indian mobile kitchen called "One Dollar Curry", is likely to be released soon.
"We plan to extend all possible incentives to Indian filmmakers who plan to shoot in Paris. We will facilitate their access to monuments and other picturesque locations and get them requisite permissions for filming," he said.
"Paris is such a diverse city that one can get any backdrop one wants. Right from castles, exhibition centres, monuments, museum, to orthodox church, magnificent parks, synagogues and vineyards, we have everything," said Roll.
Paris, which attracts some 28 million visitors a year, received 150,000 Indian travellers last year, registering a growth of around 25 percent over the previous year.
"I am sure this number will multiply many times in the next few years. Our aim is to attract 400,000 Indians in the next five years and take India in the list of top five countries in terms of tourist arrivals in 10 years' time," said Roll.
China, Japan, the US and Britain accounts for maximum number of travellers to Paris.
"With the Indian economy booming and increasing consumer spending, we believe holidays abroad will become part of the Indian lifestyle not only in metros but also in small towns," said the Paris Tourism Department official.
The strengthening of the aviation link between major cities in India and Paris is also likely to boost the tourist inflow to Paris, he added.
Currently Air France operates a daily flight from New Delhi to Paris and three flights a week from Mumbai to Paris. The service from Mumbai is likely to be increased to five in the next couple of months.
Air France is also looking at the possibility of connecting Paris with one of the southern Indian cities, said an official of the French airline without giving further details.